Vrindavan, 2016. 04. 07 (VT): It can perhaps be called a moral victory for those who opposed the half-circular bridge being built in front of the Keshi Ghat, as the ugly pillars that were abandoned years ago are finally to be removed.
The Uttar Pradesh State government has come up with a mega ‘river front development plan’ under which the ancient ghats will be preserved and the new ghats will be built. As a part of that program, the government has committed to dismantle the pillars to leave an unobstructed view of the river and its surroundings.
Shri Deepak Singhal, the Principal Secretary of the Department of Irrigation visited Vrindavan on Wednesday and surveyed the Yamuna bank for the ghat beautification project. The District Magistrate of Mathura Shri Rajesh Kumar, the Vice Chairman of the Mathura Vrindavan Development Authority, Shri Chandra Prakash Singh, the Secretary of the MVDA, Shri S.B. Singh, and officials from the various departments of the Public Works department, U.P. Jal Nigam, Irrigation Department, and Revenue Department accompanied the Principal Secretary.
Elaborating his plan to preserve the Yamuna heritage, Shri Singhal said that new pucca ghats will be built on the bank of Yamuna, where a pathway for the ‘parikrama’ and a cycling track will also be built alongside. An extension to the ancient ghats will be given, including the famous Keshi Ghat.
He said that the polythene bags have gradually accumulated on the Yamuna bed creating a layer as thick as one meter. The Yamuna has become shallow. He insisted that Yamuna will be dredged to a depth of 10 meters so that the polythene layer can be cleared. Shri Singhal warned Shri Ram Aasre Kamal, the Executive Officer of the Vrindavan Municipality, that not a single drop of sewer should go to the Yamuna and that a fine of Rs. 10,000 should be imposed on all polluters of the river.
Shri Singhal was annoyed to see the illegal construction on the Yamuna flood plain. He asked the MVDA to immediately raze all the buildings that have come up there so that all obstructions between the river and its ghats can be removed.
“We are not concerned with the beautification of the ghats alone,” the Principal Secretary said. “We are worried about water level.”
He promised that 400 cusec of water will be soon released from the Ganga canal in the Yamuna from near Kosi, to maintain the water level on the ghats. A rubber dam is also proposed to be built on Yamuna so that the water permanently stays in the 15 kilometer stretch. The inhabitants of Vrindavan and Maant will get enough water from the ganga canal.
An iron suspension bridge will be built over Yamuna to connect Maant with Vrindavan. The suspension bridge will facilitate visitors by connecting them to the Krishna Theme Park to be built on the other side of Yamuna from Vrindavan. World class public conveyance will be built along the ghats. Arrangements of lighting, drinking water, cleanliness and car parking will also be made there.
Though the officials were very optimist about the government’s ambitious plan, but they were very cautious about any wrong step that may be challenged legally in the courts. Therefore prior approval will be taken from the National Green Tribunal for the project.
While the inspection was going on, some activists from the Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance was also present there. It should be noted that the BVHA has been raising the issue of bringing back Yamuna to its ancient ghats. According to Acharya Naresh Narayan, a senior BVHA activist, “Dredging the Yamuna beds, razing the illegal construction, releasing water from the Ganga canal, all the plans are wonderful. But we fail to understand what is the need of building new ghats in front of the old ones,” wondered Shri Naresh Narayan.